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Judging by the actions of US politicians and media pundits, Scientific and American are two words which can be connected using the word: NOT. However, politics aside, Scientific American is an excellent magazine and highly recommended. It's a monthly magazine, rather than a weekly like New Scientist. One consequence is that there is less attempt at topicality in the magazine, and much more emphasis on the quality of writing and exposition. It also means that you have longer to read each issue before the next one arrives. Each issue usually has one of two major articles, some shorter pieces, book reviews and a few regular columnists. It's a thin magazine compared to the bloated computer magazines, but it has a very high content to advert ratio. Like New Scientist the magazine tries to balance an assumption of scientific knowledge but not that you are an expert in any given field. In general this works pretty well, though of course some articles are harder work than others. If you've managed to read a decent pop science book recently you can probably managed Scientific American. At the end of the day there's a limited choice for popular science magazines: New Scientist, Scientific American and Focus. The latter is the most 'pop' of the three, but it scores on grpahics. New Scientist has good content but overall it's a bit patchy. Scientific American is more consistent, in my opinion at least. However, I don't have a sub to any of them, I prefer to pick and chose based on the current crop of articles.
Scientific American or SCIAM is a science journal published in the US once a month. I have subscribed to the journal for the past three years and was buying it on and off for the previous three years. SCIAM is a good quality science journal. It publishs a broad range of subjects, from physics and chemistry to social science, archaeology, neuroscience and molecular biology. SCIAM is a 'heavier' read than the New Scientist. The articles are generally longer, more complex and involved. SCIAM assumes a basic scientific background and interest. It does not teach granny to suck eggs, which I feel the New Scientist is prone to at times. SCIAM is published monthly, it takes me three weeks of bedtime reading to get through one issue. It is the sort of publication one can dip into, you don't need to read it all at once. All issues follow a general layout. There is a news section, reporting on the scientific goings on of the previous month which is usually well researched. There are 5 or 6 main articles usually 3 or 4 pages long, either on varied subjects or different aspects of one theme. Towards the back of the magazine is a mathematical/logic problem or proof. Also my favourite section which is a things you could try at home. Recent ones have been constructing your own microbalance and an attempt at DIY PCR (PCR is the polymerase chain reaction used to separate proteins). Did you know that the end of a british rail (or similiar) coffee stirrer is an accurate measure of 40 microlitres? There is also a section reviewing recently published popular science books which usually sends me rushing to waterstones! Generally SCIAM is an interesting read. It presents an interpretation of theories, facts and figures and generally an unbiased opinion. The subjects within one issue cover a wide variety of subjects. I would recommend SCIAM to anyone interested in Science and its use and development in
the 21st century. It can be bought from most newsagents such as WHSmith for about £3.50 an issue. One years subscription costs me £32. SCIAM would not be everyones kind of thing ... try it you might like it and I can guarantee it will stimulate your mind.